FL SCOTUS Reprimands Judge for Penalty Phase of Parkland Shooter

(RepublicanNews.org) – The Florida judge who oversaw the penalty portion of the trial for convicted mass-shooter Nikolas Cruz has been reprimanded by the state’s Supreme Court. Their unanimous decision on June 24th said that Judge Elizabeth Scherer violated a number of rules that govern judicial conduct and that she had “unduly chastised” Cruz’ public defense team.

The 46-year-old judge’s actions during the trial were examined by a 15-person commission that included lawyers, other judges, and citizens. Their post-trial reprimand suggested that Scherer had failed to act with “impartiality” by showing an element of favoritism to the prosecution.

While parents of Cruz’s victims praised Scherer for her handling of the case, legal observers criticized the judge for her frequent clashes with the defense. The commission found that at one point Scherer falsely accused one of Cruz’s lawyers of threatening her children.

The attorney responded to the judge’s allegation by telling Scherer they “would definitely notice” if a threat had actually been leveled. Scherer responded by forcing the attorney to sit in the back of the courtroom.

A jury overseen by Scherer opted against sentencing 24-year-old Nikolas Cruz to death for the murder of 17 people at a Parkland high school. They instead ordered that Cruz would spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. After pronouncing the jury’s sentence as required by law, Scherer hugged both the prosecuting team and several family members of Cruz’s victims.

Those actions led the Florida Supreme Court to remove Scherer from presiding over the post-conviction motion of Randy Tundidor, who had been sentenced to death for a 2012 murder. A prosecutor in the case had also served during the Cruz trial. Only days after Cruz was sentenced Scherer asked that prosecutor how they were doing during a hearing for Tundidor.

Scherer retired at the end of June after serving on the bench since 2012 but did not say if her retirement came in anticipation of the reprimand.

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